Traditional Board Games

Four Field Kono

This is an interesting abstract strategy game from Korea. The game is played on a board of 4x4 points, each player having eight pieces. The object of the game is to capture your opponent's piece till he has only one left. Pieces move a single step along a marked line to an adjacent point; an enemy is captured by leaping one of your pieces over an adjacent piece to land on the enemy immediately beyond.

History of Four Field Kono

Four field kono, also called nei-pat-ko-no, is a small but interesting strategic game from Korea. It was first described in English by the ethnographer Stewart Culin in 1895, and according to the more recent board game historian R. C. Bell it was still played there in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The game requires careful strategy, and is one of a number of interesting strategic games which have been invented in Korea over the centuries. Its exact age is unknown.

Rules for Four Field Kono

Rules for Four Field Kono
Four field kono is played on the intersections, or points, of a board of four lines by four, as shown in the diagram. It is for two players, each of which starts with eight pieces.

1. The game begins with each player having filled his half of the board with his pieces.

2. Black takes the first move.

3. A piece moves by sliding along a marked line to an empty adjacent point.

4. Diagonal moves are not allowed in this game.

5. As the board begins full of pieces, and there are no empty points, the first move of the game must necessarily be a capture.

6. A player captures an enemy piece by jumping one of his pieces over an adjacent friendly piece, to land on the enemy piece immediately beyond.

7. To make such a capture, all three pieces must be in a straight line of three, with the enemy at the end.

8. As is the case with non-capturing moves, diagonal captures are not allowed.

9. Only one capture can be made at a time; there are no multiple jumps as in some other games.

10. A player cannot jump over an enemy piece to make a capture; the piece jumped over must be his own.

11. If a player has captured all his opponent’s pieces, then he has won the game.

12. In practice, if a player has reduced his opponent to one piece then he has already won the game, as the opponent can make no further captures.

13. If a player has pieces left but no legal move, he is blocked in and has lost the game.


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